UK Government Funds post EU Funding

Levelling Up Fund

The UK Government recently announced details of its new Levelling Up Fund at the Spending Review in March. The prospectus for the fund, including guidance on how to bid for the first round, and the accompanying list of local authorities by priority category can be found at Levelling Up Fund: prospectus – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

The Levelling Up Fund will support town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets.

The competitive fund is worth £4.8billion across the UK, with at least £800m to be set aside for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over four years from 2021 to 2025.  For the first round of funding, at least 9% of total UK allocations will be set aside for Scotland, 5% for Wales, and 3% for Northern Ireland.  In England, Scotland and Wales, funding will be delivered through local authorities, targeted at those with the most significant need, assessed using the following criteria:

  • need for economic recovery and growth
  • need for improved transport connectivity
  • need for regeneration

Places have been placed into category 1, 2, or 3, with category 1 places are those with the highest levels of identified need. While preference will be given to bids from higher priority areas, the bandings do not represent eligibility criteria, nor the amount or number of bids a place can submit. Bids from categories 2 and 3 will still be considered for funding on their merits of deliverability, value for money and strategic fit, and could still be successful if they are of exceptionally high quality.

Capacity funding of £125,000 will be allocated to local authorities in Wales, to help build their relationship with the UK Government for the purposes of the Fund and to develop high quality bids  for later rounds.  Bidding authorities are encouraged to collaborate with neighbouring authorities on cross boundary schemes and to submit joint proposals across their local areas where appropriate.  Further guidance on capacity support will be issued to local authorities in the near future.

MPs are expected to back one bid that they see as a priority. The number of bids that a local authority in the first category can make will relate to the number of MPs in their area, they can submit one bid for every MP whose constituency lies wholly within their boundary. Every local authority can submit at least one bid. Where an MP’s constituency crosses multiple local authorities, one local authority should take responsibility as the lead bidder and local areas should work together to designate that lead bidder.

The Fund will focus investment in projects that require up to £20m of funding. However, there is also scope for investing in larger high value transport projects, by exception. Bids above £20m and below £50m will be accepted for transport projects only, such as road schemes, and can be submitted by any bidding local authority.

The first round of the Fund in 2021 – 2022 will focus on three themes:

  • Transport investments
  • Regeneration and town centre investment
  • Cultural investment

UK Community Renewal Fund

The UK Community Renewal Fund (CRF) prospectus was also published by the UK Government in March.  The prospectus for the £220m investment, and the list of priority places, can be found at UK Community Renewal Fund: prospectus – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

The fund precedes the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF) due to launch in 2022.  It is intended to help local areas pilot new approaches and programmes to tackle local challenges in preparation for the introduction of the SPF.

The CRF will be a competitive process with no pre-set eligibility.  An index of 100 priority places has been identified based on economic resilience, measured by productivity, household income, unemployment, skills and population density.   Projects that target investment at communities in need will be prioritised, especially at the top 100 priority places, and capacity funding will be given to the lead authority for these 100 places.

The investment priorities are:

  • Investment in skills
  • Investment for local business
  • Investment in communities and place
  • Supporting people into employment

Additional guidance documents and application forms will be available shortly.

Some key dates to note for Wales are:

March 2021

  • During March, lead authorities invite bids from for their places in Great Britain.

1 April 2021

  • Bid assessment and coordination capacity funding can be incurred by lead authorities of the 100 priority places in Great Britain.

18 June 2021

  • Lead authorities in Great Britain submit a shortlist of project bids to UK government for assessment.

Late July 2021 onwards

  • UK government announces successful projects for the UK Community Renewal Fund.
  • First tranche of funding flows to lead authorities

November and December 2021

  • Mid-point monitoring reviews of projects with lead authorities

31 March 2022

  • UK Community Renewal Fund finishes.
  • Second tranche of funding paid to lead authorities

Below is a table with the links and timescales of Local Authority calls for applications:

County CRF (Priority Area) Link Deadline
Blaenau Gwent Yes Website link 5pm 20/05/21
Bridgend No Website link 7am 24/05/2021
Caerphilly No Website link Noon 17/05/21
Cardiff No Website link 5pm 17/05/2021
Carmarthenshire Yes Website link Noon 5/05/2021
Ceredigion Yes Website link 9am 17/05/2021
Conwy Yes Website link 5pm 14/05/2021
Denbighshire Yes Website link 5pm 31/05/2021
Flintshire No Website link 5pm 14/05/2021
Gwynedd Yes Website link Noon 28/05/2021
Anglesey Yes Website link 4pm 30/04/2021
Merthyr Tydfil Yes Website link Midnight 24/05/2021
Monmouthshire No Website link 5pm 14/05/2021
Neath Port Talbot Yes Website link Noon 14/05/2021
Newport No Website link 21/05/2021
Pembrokeshire Yes Website link 7am 4/05/2021
Powys Yes Website link 5pm 17/05/2021
RCT Yes Website link 31/05/2021
Swansea Yes Website link 5pm 21/05/2021
Torfaen Yes Website link 5pm 07/05/2021
Vale of Glamorgan No Website link 10/05/2021
Wrexham No

Shared Prosperity Fund

The vision for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund is to help level up and create opportunity across the UK for people and places.  The UK Government has committed to total domestic UK-wide funding at least matching EU receipts, on average reaching around £1.5 billion a year.

The UK Government has stated the SPF will launch in 2022 and will include:

  • A place-based portion which will target places most in need across the UK, such as ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and rural and coastal communities. It will support people and communities, opening up new opportunities and spurring regeneration and innovation. It will enable joined-up, holistic investment to support local communities and people; and
  • A second portion of the Fund will be targeted differently to people most in need through bespoke employment and skills programmes that are tailored to local need. This will support improved employment outcomes for those in and out of work in specific cohorts of people who face labour market barriers.

Further details on the SPF will be published later this year as part of a UK- wide Investment Framework and the profile will be confirmed at the next Spending Review.